A number of Democratic Party leaders have been increasingly vocal about their desire to eliminate the Senate filibuster in hopes of ramming through their agenda with a slim governing majority in Congress.
Recent revelations, however, indicate it could be one of their own who keeps it from happening.
“Accessible, free, fair, and secure”
As Democrats work toward passing a sweeping election bill known as the For the People Act, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has expressed his reservations about the legislation itself and any effort to do away with the filibuster.
Republicans have widely opposed the election-reform bill — specifically, provisions to remove voter identification requirements, loosen restrictions related to absentee voting, and require federal approval for state redistricting decisions.
A similar proposal already passed in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but it would almost certainly require the elimination of the filibuster and its 60-vote threshold in order to make it through the Senate and to President Joe Biden’s desk. As Manchin explained in a statement this week, he is not on board with such a plan.
“A healthy democracy depends on a voting system that is accessible, free, fair, and secure,” he wrote. “There are some legitimate concerns about the implementation of the For the People Act, especially in rural areas.”
Citing his own prior experience as West Virginia’s secretary of state, Manchin noted that he understands “the importance of local decision-making around voter accessibility and election security.”
“Clearly an effort by one party”
The senator noted that certain “bipartisan proposals embedded in this bill can strike the right balance,” but reiterated his belief that election reform should not come by way of a partisan proposal rammed through by just one party.
“Instead of arguing about the election reforms on which we disagree, Congress should be working together to enact those on which we can agree,” Manchin argued.
As for the potential ramifications of a one-sided pursuit, he added: “Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government.”
Notably, his rhetoric sounded more like Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) than the leaders of his own party’s caucus.
“This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite our political system, but even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare,” McConnell asserted during a hearing on Wednesday. “This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington.”